DND MINI-POD – Chapter 3: Hollywood Westerns & Primary Sources


This Dime Novel Desperados MINI-POD profiles a Hollywood Western & primary sources that Dr. Hallwas used to write the book. We recommend first listening to the episode this MINI-POD accompanies:

Chapter 3: The Maxwells in McDonough County


“Rio Bravo” (1959) starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, &  Ricky Nelson


  • How does this film reflect themes found in DND?
  • Describe the attitudes towards lawmen depicted in this film? How are they similar to and different from folks in western IL during this time?
  • Is this a western or anti-western? How do you know?
  • Does this film celebrate or romanticize violence as a form of resolution? What realities do you see? What is sensationalized?
  • What other thoughts, lessons, and illustrations come to mind when you think about this film?


  • #1 – 1871 Atlas Map of McDonough County
  • #2 – Macomb Eagle, Feb 10, 1874 article describing Ed Maxwell’s 1st crime
  • #3 – Photo: 1906 Souvenir of Blandinsville, IL

To write this book, Dr. Halwas examined several historic newspapers, photographs, documents, letters, and more. On this episode, we feature 3 primary sources from chapter 3 – The Maxwells in McDonough County…


  • How did the 1871 Atlas of McDonough County portray the region, particularly the poor? (How does this map reinforce the “Gospel of Success” that was discussed in this chapter)?
  • How was Ed Maxwell portrayed in the Macomb Eagle after he committed his first crime in Blandinsville?  Why was this portrayal unfair?
  • What did Ed get caught stealing in Blandinsville? What did this symbolize?

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